‘Departure’: Archie Panjabi on Kendra & Dom’s Attraction and Working With Christopher Plummer

'Departure' Star Archie Panjabi in Season 2
Spoiler Alert
Peter Stranks/Shaftesbury/Greenpoint Productions/Peacock

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 2 of Departure.]

Another season of Departure, another massive crash for Kendra Malley (Archie Panjabi) to investigate. This one takes her to the site of a train accident, with a new team, but two key men in her life — potential love interest Dom (Kris Holden-Reid) and the mentor who betrayed her, Howard (the late Christopher Plummer) — still in her ear helping her out.

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During the investigation, Kendra encounters the young boy Lucas (Etienne Kelleci) who survived (though his mother did not), the sheriff (Donal Logue) who’s involved in the crime, and an FBI agent, Ellen Hunter (Karen LeBlanc). In fact, by the end of the season, Kendra has a job offer from the Secretary of Transportation and wants Kendra on her team.

TV Insider chatted with Panjabi about whether Kendra will take that job, her complicated relationship with Dom, and working with Plummer.

While Kendra hasn’t said she’s definitely taking the job offer, it seems like she’s going to, right?

Archie Panjabi: You’ll have to wait and see. [Laughs]

What can you say about Kendra’s future, at least where she thinks it will take her, at the end of the season career-wise?

It’s very difficult to pass judgment on where I think she’s going to go because I think at the end of both seasons so far, she goes through a whole whirlwind of emotions. Because that job as an accident investigator is by no means an easy job — the stress of having to search for the truth, being scrutinized by the press, having to deal with the victims and the families, and of course her own personal tragedy. While she has overcome it to some extent, she is still very much grieving for the loss of her partner. So I think at the end, she really doesn’t know where she’s going to go or what her decision’s going to be. I think she needs a break and then hopefully she’ll be able to make a clearer decision.

'Departure' Stars Kelly McCormack, Archie Panjabi and Mark Rendall

Steve Wilkie/Shaftesbury/Greenpoint Productions/Peacock

After his betrayal, Kendra and Howard’s relationship could never be what it was, but they do have that great last conversation in which she says “if I’m any good at what I do, it’s thanks to you.” Is she feeling better about that being true now than she was at the end of Season 1?

Look, she was completely justified to be annoyed with him because he did play a role in the crash in Season 1. I think that she finds it so hard. She struggled in this season to not be able to forgive him because the reason she’s been given the job is ultimately he gave her that opportunity to become a leading accident investigator. So I think she gets to a certain place where she’s willing to forgive. And of course, what’s so sad is the moment she completely forgives him, they have that very pointed conversation where he bids her farewell.

Talk about working with Christopher Plummer on that relationship, especially this season.

This season, we had a string of phone calls. After Season 1, we had so many great discussions about the two of them. And what I love about the Howard and Kendra relationship is I feel that it really does mirror the kind of love and friendship that Christopher and I had. We stayed in touch after Season 1, during Season 2. He was just phenomenal to work with. Those phone calls, when I watched them — personally, it’s hard for me to watch them — I see Christopher and Archie because I see this real bonding, this real friendship, this real love for one another. When we were filming that very last scene, we weren’t on the phone to each other, but we had spoken about the phone calls beforehand. I think we just knew how the other person would react. And those scenes for both of us were very hard to do. When I was at the receiving end and he says goodbye, inside, I was a wreck. They’re powerful scenes.

'Departure' Star Christopher Plummer as Howard Lawson

Stephen Scott/Shaftesbury/Greenpoint Productions/Peacock

Does Kendra know how she feels about Dom? It seems like they keep taking one step forward, maybe one and a half steps back.

Kendra is in a completely different country, she has a completely new set of coworkers, she’s working on a case that is very demanding, and I think having him turn up is a breath of fresh air. She uses the phrase, “I’m untethered,” and he says, “in a good or a bad way?” and she says both. Kendra does have feelings for him, but I don’t think she completely understands them herself, which is so ironic because she’s brilliant. She’s a brilliant investigator. She’s great at dealing with victims and the families and the people — she’s such a people person — but when it comes to herself and dealing with her own personal relationships, I think she is not as good at [that]. I think she sends out mixed messages, which is the way it comes across when you see them together. It’s clear that there is some degree of attraction, but I don’t think she completely understands that nor she is able to articulate how she feels. And I think Dom gets that. Dom understands her probably better than anyone else.

It seems like she lit up when he walked in and they went to get lunch.

Yes. You just see her eyes completely light up, and she’s so excited to see him and they go out for lunch and she talks to him and then not much more developed. Or does it, I don’t know. I think that’s a lot more going on in Kendra’s mind, which we’ll hopefully learn about if we go into Season 3.

'Departure' Stars Kris Holden-Reid and Archie Panjabi in Season 2

Steve Wilkie/Shaftesbury/Greenpoint Productions/Peacock

She doesn’t want to close that door completely, but she’s not ready to step through it.

I think she wants to open it. I don’t think she knows how to open it. I think there’s something quite childlike about her when it comes to [that]. You see a completely different side to her to the professional, calm, collected, woman that you see when she’s dealing with the authorities or the press or the media or the victim’s families. She deals with all of that with such a cool head. But when it comes to personal relationships, you see a very different side of her come out.

We saw how much she cared about Lucas. Do you think that was partly because she’s away from her own son?

Yes. There’s something quite childlike about Kendra and I think that they actually do connect. I think part of it is because she’s away from her own son. She can be very maternal. But there is an honesty about children and Kendra’s whole job is about finding the truth, and so I think she gravitates towards children because they are completely honest. You don’t have to unwrap them. Even though they’re complicated, she gets it, she understands it. So I think that’s what you see in that relationship. There’s just a connection there between them, partly down to missing her own son but I think also just a natural connection because he’s a child.

'Departure' Stars Archie Panjabi and Karen LeBlanc

Peter Stranks/Shaftesbury/Greenpoint Productions/Peacock

I really enjoyed Kendra and Ellen’s scenes and I love that Kendra wants her on her team considering the beginning of the season for them.

What I love about the show is that the producers, TJ Scott and Christina Jennings, they’re so willing — they’ve got such little time to film a show and they’re filming six episodes in one go. I’m such a character-driven actor, so I love relationships and I love female relationships. I think they’re so important and they’re so complex. When we first got the script, I was really keen to just find out the relationship with Karen, and Karen is such a wonderful actress. As soon as she walked in, we just connected and we were both very keen to work that connection that we felt as actresses, as women, to infuse that into the characters. And so every time we had a scene, we’d sit down and throw around ideas and then show them to TJ or Christina. When you see the end product, you do see a lot of that. It was a group effort. And I do think it’s come out very well.

I feel like [Kendra and Ellen] are a Cagney and Lacey team. One of my favorite scenes is when Ellen says to Kendra, “Have you got your vest on?” and Kendra undoes her zip and she goes, “Yeah, I have.” For a minute, you feel like they’re two sisters, not necessarily that she’s the head of the FBI and Kendra is the lead investigator.

What do you hope to explore with Kendra, both professionally and personally, in a Season 3?

On a personal level, I would like to see a little bit more insight into her relationships. Maybe learn about what her marriage was like and how maybe that impacts her relationship with Dom or any future male suitors. Also [I’d like] to see her family or her social life. And professionally, she’ll probably be thrown into another massive large-scale disaster and we’ll have to try and search for the truth.

'Departure' Star Archie Panjabi

Peter Stranks/Shaftesbury/Greenpoint Productions/Peacock

Maybe it’ll take them to the water this time. They did air, they did land.

You never know. Hang on to that thought.

Departure, Seasons 1-2, Streaming Now, Peacock